14 October 1897
Shortly after five o'clock this morning the C.P.R. Toronto "Cannon
Ball" Exress coming to Ottawa and a freght train ran into each other
about three miles this side of Stittsville. A bad wreck
Five are dead and one is badly injured.
The dead are:
Robt. Peden, mail clerk Ottawa.
Jas Hastey, brakeman on the express, Carleton Place.
James Tierney, of Cantley, Quebec, was on the freight and supposed to
be stealing a ride.
Engineer, Frank Laurendeau, Carleton Place, of the express is under the
wreck and supposed to be dead.
James Fleming of Cantley, Quebec, who was in freight. Not
how he was on.
Engineer McCuaig of the freight Carleton Place. Leg broken.
Mail clerk Birchall and Expressman T.C. Hewton were badly shaken up.
The accident as far as can be learned was the result either of a
misunderstanding or non-obeyance of orders between the night telegraph
operator and the conductor of the express.
Marion McNish, the night operator at Stittsville got instructions to
cross the express and a freight at Stittsville.
Why the express was not held at Stittsville as orered has yet to be
ascertained but the fact is it was not held and thundering on along the
downgrade met half of the freight that should have crossed it at the
Stittsville switch. The result was a terrible
the point where the accident occurred the express runs at a high rate
Stittsville is at the top of a long steep grade. Just past Stittsville
the ground rises slightly and then descends so that a train going east
cannot see a train coming west.
The freight train was long and heavy.
The engineer of the freight divided his train in two. He had
taken one section to the Stittsville siding and was on the up-grade
with the second section when the "Cannon Ball" express came tearing
down the grade and quicker than it can be written there was a head-on
crash, cries of the injured and wreckage strewn all around.
collision occurred near the Hazeldean crossing.
The wreck was piled up 30 feet high. The two engines are badly damaged
and the baggage car on the express and three freight cars
wrecked. The scene was a sad one to witness.
As soon as the crash was over and a crowd gathered doctors were set for
in all directions. Soon there were on the scene Dr.
Hazeldean, Dr. Channonhouse and Dr. Danby of Richmond. They
worked hard to aid the injured.
Jumped for Life
As soon as the express appeared in sight, Engineer McCuaig of the
freight put on the air brakes, but as soon as he saw a collision was
inevitable he and the fireman jumped for their lives.
Pinned in the Wreck
Brakeman Hastey of the freight, who had been riding on the engine, did
not jump. When the crash was over he was found pinned down by
leg in the wreck of the freight engine. He was
He suffered terribly but lived until 8.30.
The poor fellow could not be taken out. Mr. S. Mann of
Stittsville was near him when he died.
"Get the stuff off me", he said weakly, and I will be all right. He
then swooned and shortly afterwards breathed his last.
No Time to Think
According to the story of Engineer McCuaig, the trains did not see each
other until they were less than 8 car lengths apart, and there was no
time to think. As soon as he saw the express coming he told
fireman and brakeman, he says, to jump and jumped himself, getting
clear. The air was misty at the time and still comparatively
Descriptions of narrow escapes by crew members
Pen Picture of the
Wreck as seen
by Journal Reporters
The wreck is a terrible looking scene. Two engines lie bottoms
together, with the debris of broken freight cars and tenders piled upon
them. They are in a ditch on the south side of the track, in
swamp full of bulrushes.
The telegraph poles on both sides are bent away from the track, the
wires broken and down.
The track runs through a swampy land and on both sides are low
bushes. The two engines are lying together in a ditch on the
south side of the track. The tender of the exress train was
way through the baggage car and the front of the second baggage car is
also badly smashed. Of the passenger train, only the engine
the track while the freight engine lies beside the passenger engine and
the freight cars are piled in a heap on the north side of the
track. Two of the freight cars are smashed to pieces, while
of the trucks are broken and twisted altogether out of shape.
trees beside the engines are covered with earth for twenty feet back
from the swamp and right up to the topmost limbs, while the fences look
as if they had been built of mud.
The track where the engines met has been bent considerably, while the
sleepers are broken and many will have to be renewed.. While
train hands at noon today are cleaning up the debris the wreckage was
so entangled that many ties were further broken. Trains will likely be
moving along the line before five o'clock this afternoon.
Ottawa Evening Journal Friday 15 October, 1897. Extensive
coverage: Victims taken home, Inquest opened.
McNish in Custody
Operator McNish of Stittsville is being kept in custody at the C.P.R.
station. The crown authorities have not yet decided to place
under arrest, but he is being held for the present. He is only nineteen
years of age and feels very keenly over the accident. An
expression of opinion that he is responsible for the accident should be
withheld until the verdict of the coroner'sjury is given.
First Train Through
The first train to get past the scene of the wreck was the Brockville
mixed which arrived at Ottawa at three o'clock yesterday afternoon
about six hours late. --
Ottawa Evening Journal Saturday 16 October 1897.
Borne to the grave.
Eastern Ontario Review friday 3 December 1897
Alex McQuaig, the engineer charged with manslaughter as a result of the accident at Stittsville, has been committed for trial.